Divorce Support Groups and Coping with Divorce

Divorce is a difficult time that churns up all sorts of emotions and issues. There's the stress and grief that stem from the death of a relationship and the break of an important contract. You might also face legal concerns, money matters, parenting issues, and housing dilemmas.

Maybe you've heard that about half of marriages end in divorce (it’s actually about 43%) –  but that doesn't make you feel any less alone. Self-care might not be enough, and your trusted friends may not “get it.” Even though a recent Gallup poll reported that 81% of Americans think divorce is morally acceptable, there is still some stigma around divorce. And all the legal advice in the world can’t help much with the emotional aspects of divorce.

But there's good news. When it all feels like too much, a divorce support group can help you take care of yourself. In this divorce article, we explore everything you need to know about divorce support groups: what they are, how they work, how to find one, and the pros and cons of joining one. We touch on specific websites you can visit to find support as well as other types of supportive measures you can take.

What is a divorce support group?

A divorce support group is a group of people who meet in person or online to share their divorce-related experiences, process negative emotions and give and receive support.

Some divorce support groups are guided by a specific topic or theme. For example, you can find support groups for newly divorced people, groups that focus on co-parenting, and divorce recovery groups like DivorceCare that focus on your new life and dating after divorce. These are just a few examples. Divorce support groups may also be geared toward specific groups of people based on age, gender, religion, or ethnicity. We like Circles because it offers a wide range of groups and topics, so you can find numerous types of support in one place – and online, so accessible to all.

Our partner Circles is one of the leading Divorce Support groups in the United States.

Join the thousands of people who’ve found comfort and support with Circles

What happens at a divorce support group meeting?

Meetings vary in structure, but generally speaking, the group is led by a host, therapist, coach, or peer who guides group discussion about a pertinent topic or topics. The number of people in attendance could be as low as three or as high as 50 (or more).

Confidentiality is a top concern in divorce support groups. After all, you won't feel free to share your story (and neither will the other participants) if it feels unsafe to do so. If you're considering joining a divorce support group, whether online or in person, we advise you to learn all you can about the group's confidentiality policy first (such as if you need to provide your real name).

Verifying the credentials and expertise of support group moderators

Checking the credentials, experience, and areas of expertise of the group’s moderator(s) helps ensure that the group is managed professionally and that members receive the help they need. 

Here are some tips:

  • Review moderator profiles: A trustworthy group will have profiles or bios of each of their moderators. You should easily be able to understand their background, experience, and qualifications relevant to the group's topic. The exception is if it’s a peer-led group – in that case, make sure it’s hosted by a reputable organization like a medical group.
  • Review the group’s guidelines and policies: There should be plenty of information about the group, what and who it’s for, and its rules. Lack thereof is a sign it may be improperly managed.
  • Check professional affiliations: While some professional affiliations or memberships that moderators may have related to the group's topic may sound legitimate, it’s a good idea to look them up. This could include organizations, certifications, or licenses that demonstrate their expertise in the field.
  • Google the group and its moderators: An online search of the moderators' names and the support group name can help verify expertise and credibility. It will also reveal any common issues. Look for client reviews, forums like Reddit, etc.
  • Ask members what they think about the group: If possible, contact members and ask them what they like or dislike. Hearing from others who have attended meetings can provide valuable insights.
  • During the meeting, evaluate moderator responses: Do you trust what they say? Do they provide helpful information, or just validate feelings? Do they advise outside their areas of expertise?

Bottom line: Trust your gut. The best support group is one you feel very comfortable in, and that empowers you to make the positive decision about the issues you are grappling with.  

Online vs. in-person support groups

Online divorce support groups

As the name suggests, you can attend an online divorce support meeting from the comfort of your home. These meetings are often led by a divorce coach or therapist, but other facilitators may also be involved. The leader's job is to encourage structured conversation and promote fair give-and-take between participants. The goal is for each member to leave the meeting feeling validated and satisfied and to have a safe space to talk about their breakups.

In-person divorce support groups

In-person divorce support group meetings share a similar goal to online groups: thoughtful group discussion and support. These meetings occur in person rather than behind the veil of cyberspace. That said, you should not feel obligated to participate in a support group. You may decide to observe the group interaction silently – at least until you decide you feel comfortable with it. Support groups like these often take place in local buildings: church basements, public libraries, community centers, and medical buildings.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean anyone can just show up. Some support group meetings are "closed" meetings, which means you must be a member (or have a serious interest in becoming a member) to attend. Other support groups have open meetings that anyone can attend.

How do you find a divorce support group?

Finding a local support group may be easier than it sounds. Here are several ways to springboard your search:

  • Contact your local church to inquire about area divorce groups.
  • Ask the lawyer or attorney handling your case to direct you to a support group.
  • Speak with your physician or therapist for tips on finding the right group for you.
  • Visit the Psychology Today website for support group listings.
  • Place a 2-1-1 phone call to learn about resources in your community.

Benefits and limitations of divorce support groups

If you're interested in joining a support group, you should clearly understand the benefits and limitations before starting group therapy.

Benefits of divorce support groups:

  • Allow you to talk through your healing process in a group setting.
  • Share your story and let go of negative emotions instead of holding them in.
  • You can protect your privacy by only offering your first name (and can even make one up).
  • Hear the stories of other group members.
  • Nurture your well-being beyond self-care.
  • You may make new friends who are also going through the grieving process.
  • It's fairly easy to find one that fits your schedule.

Limitations of divorce support groups:

  • You cannot receive legal advice or advice on serious issues like child support, custody, domestic abuse, or severe mental health issues. The only exception is if the moderator has legal credentials – but even then, the purpose of support groups is to help peers connect as you navigate the emotional aspects, not to solve actual legal issues that require a certified expert who understands all the details of your case.
  • You will not receive individualized advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you’re experiencing extremely painful feelings, you may need additional help.
  • You have no control over other attendees. As such, you may not get along with everyone, and you might find some people unpleasant.
  • The credentials and expertise of the moderator or host can vary. Groups are sometimes run by peers without expertise.

Protecting yourself in divorce support groups

You’ll be hearing or sharing personal information in the support group, so it’s important to understand the potential risks and benefits. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Understand the risks

Any time you share personal information with others, you run the risk of them sharing it with others (even though they are not supposed to). This includes the risk of privacy breaches, identity theft, cyberbullying, and other forms of online harassment. In-person support groups have additional risks around confidentiality or unintended disclosure.

Check the privacy settings (if online)

Online groups should have optional privacy settings such as disabling video, allowing fake names, etc. Often, only the moderator sees your information (usually provided at sign-up). The moderator should clearly explain your options for how much information you share with the group.

Stay anonymous

Participate anonymously or use a pseudonym to protect your privacy while you get support and information. 

Don’t share too many details

Exercise caution when sharing personal information, especially when talking about others like your spouse, children, etc. Withhold identifying details like real names, jobs, where they live, etc.

More security tips

  • Use strong a password for any login
  • Avoiding sharing details with members or anyone else outside the group meeting
  • Be wary of phishing attempts or suspicious links. Reach out directly to the moderator or group host if you aren’t sure.
  • Although you may form friendships with others in the group, be careful. Take similar precautions as you would on a first date (meet in a public place, do not share your address, work, etc.). Of course, after you establish a relationship you can relax these rules.

Other types of support

The support group environment resonates with some people, but it's not right for everyone. Sometimes, another option is a better fit. Let's take a brief look at what you might get from divorce counseling or therapy.

Divorce counseling

Who it’s best for: Couples (you can meet together or apart but with the same counselor).

Divorce counseling usually takes place between a couple and a therapist, counselor, or coach. You and your spouse sit down with the therapist and try to work through issues so you can reach a goal. Many couples seek divorce counseling to determine if the marriage can be saved. Couples who are unable to resolve or at least improve their marital issues may opt to file for divorce.

Individualized therapy

Who it’s best for: Those who want to focus on their issues, need medication or other treatment, or have not had success in a group setting. 

Whereas divorce counseling is for couples, therapy provides individualized help. You can seek therapy at any point in your journey – pre-divorce, during divorce, or post-divorce. The word "therapy" entails service from a broad range of mental health professionals, including psychologists, licensed therapists or counselors, and psychiatrists. Therapy can be especially helpful if your marital issues are impacting your physical or emotional health.

Examples of problems you might be having include sleep disturbance, social anxiety, and a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. A therapist can help you move through the natural stages of grief that accompany divorce. They can provide you with coping tools to help you through your toughest times and navigate new relationships. Unlike a support group, private therapy allows you to work through your issues in a self-focused manner.

And, if your therapist believes it would be helpful, they may be able to prescribe medication to help with symptoms like anxiety. Or, they may lead you to a physician who has the power to do so.

Family therapy

Who it’s best for: Two or more relatives who want to receive support together.

Family therapy is another therapeutic option. Each family member is given space to share their feelings and ask questions, either in a group setting or one-on-one with a therapist. The primary goals of family therapy may be to improve communication, cultivate a healthier family dynamic, or address specific concerns, such as conflicting parenting styles or how to help a child struggling with divorce.

Family therapy can also help resolve issues with your ex-spouse and find ways to thrive as single parents. A divorce mediator can also serve as an impartial go-between if you and your ex-spouse have significant, ongoing conflicts – especially if they are legal in nature. If, for example, your ex is a narcissist, you may need ongoing support.

When to see a healthcare provider

If you think you need medication, it's important to consult your healthcare provider for such needs. It is also helpful to share details about your mental health with them, and they can recommend some support groups for you.

What are the best divorce support groups?

If you've read this far and you think a divorce support group sounds like the right fit, check out these recommendations for various nationwide and local groups that offer in-person or online support groups, often on Zoom with video optional.

You should also check with your healthcare provider to see if it offers free or discounted divorce support services. If you want a more informal setting, Meetup groups may exist in your area that are specifically for divorced people who want to socialize.

Mental Health America: This organization provides a safe space to discuss various topics, including divorce. Joining their discussion board can serve as a bridge to finding the right support group in your area.

Circles: Affordable and accessible, Circles is one of the best online divorce support groups. It offers a wide variety of support groups so you can find one that addresses your specific issues. Some of their divorce-related groups zero in on grief, parenting challenges, anxiety, self-esteem, and how to cope with a newly single identity. 

Mensgroup is similar to Circles, but it is solely for men seeking emotional support. It also offers virtual chat groups for members so positive conversations can be fostered about men’s divorce experiences.

DivorceCare is a national divorce recovery network that offers in-person and online support groups. The main focus is on healing during and after divorce and providing a safe place for those experiencing grief and pain after the loss of their marriage.

WomansDivorce: This group is a hub for resources women may need during the divorce process. The platform includes a directory to help you find groups in your area. It's okay to feel fragile and scared during a divorce. In fact, it's okay to feel however you feel during a divorce.


The most important takeaway is that you don't have to do this alone. The end of a marriage is a huge loss, even in the worst relationship. There’s no rush – healing and moving past hurt feelings takes time. Plenty of support exists for people coping with separation and divorce who want to share their experiences, learn new perspectives, and give and receive compassion. There is no shame in getting outside help. You’ve got this.


Brenan, Megan. “Americans Say Birth Control, Divorce Most 'Morally Acceptable'.” (June 2022). Gallup.
Marriage and Divorce. (April 2023). National Center for Health Statistics.
Washington, Chanell and Lydia Anderson. National Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined From 2011 to 2021. (July 2023). United States Census Bureau.
Head of Content
Communication, Relationships, Personal Growth, Mental Health
As Hello Divorce's Head of Content, Katie is dedicated to breaking down the stress and mess of divorce into clear, helpful content that delivers hope rather than fear. Katie most often writes about the emotional toll of divorce, self-care and mindfulness, and effective communication. Katie has 20+ years of experience in content development and management, specializing in compelling consumer-facing content that helps people live better lives. She has a Master's in Media Studies from the University of Wisconsin. Katie lives in Texas with her husband and two adorable cats, and you can find her hiking and bird watching in her free time.